Angola factors significantly in our thinking about strategic partnerships in Africa. The continent's second largest oil producer, a major home for U.S. investment, and an increasingly significant regional player, Angola has put its long civil war behind it and provides an example of reconciliation and rebuilding for the rest of the continent. During my April 21-22 visit to Luanda, I could see that the boom continues, with construction cranes all over the skyline, but growth has come with some real challenges, like a staggering cost of living, that we want to help Angola surmount.
While I was in Luanda, we took a few more tangible steps forward in our growing relationship with Angola, building on the visit of Secretary Clinton last August. The Transportation Minister and I signed a new bilateral air transport agreement, which opens the door to commercial links. I discussed with Angola's President and Foreign Minister how we can best advance our long-term relationship through a new Strategic Partnership Dialogue. I also met with the head of Angola's largest opposition party to talk about Angola's path towards democracy, among other issues.
I am convinced that the American people can be instrumental in helping Angola make progress. Our health programs continue to produce results, and the Angolans were particularly appreciative of our contribution to their accomplishment in cutting in half the number of Angolan children who die from malaria each year. I spoke with a number of American and Angolan business people about the opportunities for U.S. companies in Angola. Its vast and untapped agricultural potential, with only 5 percent of its 35 million hectares of arable land currently under cultivation, could eventually serve as a breadbasket for the sub-region. U.S. firms have done well in the oil sector, but many other possibilities exist.
It was also a pleasure to meet with the American men and women, civilian and uniformed, who serve our country overseas. Angola offers many challenges for these dedicated public servants, but our diplomats and local staff continue to work hard because they understand that Angola is a place that matters. I am proud of them.